Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Some MS Schools Open Early to Offset Learning Loss

By Anna Tate

Journalism student

Simpson County students went back to class on July 28. Photo by Anna Tate

Oxford and Lafayette County School Districts will have students back in the classroom this week, and teachers are already on campus.

The school calendars for these districts aren’t much different than in a typical year, but the pandemic has led to a different strategy in the Simpson County Schools.

After more than a year of struggle for students and teachers during COVID-19, Simpson County students were back in class on July 28.

“The reason why we started early with the calendar is it lets us do built-in remediation periods at the end of each nine weeks,” said Dr. Deidre Randall, the assistant superintendent of curriculum.

Remediation weeks are for the students that fall behind on their work or ones who have below a C average in any class.

The change to the academic calendar also affects the athletic and activity calendar.

“Going so early in the month made us have to have band camp in the beginning of July so basically, we didn’t have a summer,” said Cameron Williams, a senior band member at Mendenhall High.

According to the Mississippi Department of Education, 13 other districts are starting school in July this academic year. Randall said she has seen this approach work in other districts where the additional one-on-one instruction for those who need it has helped raise test scores.

“I have been watching Corinth School District and they have been doing this for about five or six years now and they are having tremendous results,” Randall said. “Being able to really get the time that some students need is just incredible to fill those skill gaps.”

Simpson County Schools are requiring students and all personnel to wear masks in common areas and though there is a virtual option for students, those who choose that approach are not allowed to participate in extracurricular activities.

Oxford School District Superintendent Bradley Roberson announced that a mask mandate is in place for all students and staff in all indoor settings starting today through Aug. 20.

The Lafayette County School District will return to traditional, in-person instruction that requires all students to be physically present in school. Virtual learning will be only provided to K-12 students who are quarantined by the district or when schools are closed due to weather or other reasons. There is no mask mandate currently in place for Lafayette County schools.